Four North Carolina players selected in first round of MLB Draft

Patrick Bailey of NC State, Bryce Jarvis of Duke, Jared Shuster of Wake Forest, and Aaron Sabato of UNC were all drafted in the First Round of the 2020 MLB Draft.

The first round of the 2020 MLB draft was completed on June 10, 2020 with four players who played collegiate baseball in the state of North Carolina selected in the first round.  The 2020 MLB draft had a different feel to it, with it being shortened from 40 rounds to just 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with the Houston Astros not having a first or second round pick, due to their sign-stealing scandal.  Like the 2020 NFL Draft, the MLB Draft was also done remotely causing another change in how players were selected.

The 2020 college baseball season also only lasted about a month, with most teams playing under 20 games before the season was cancelled.  The high school baseball season also was cancelled, with most North Carolina high school teams playing only 5 games, or less.  These cancellations caused a slight change in how teams selected, with more choosing collegiate players early on.  All of the players from NC selected in the first round fall into this category, as they all had played at least one season of college baseball.

Patrick Bailey of NC State selected #13 overall to the San Francisco Giants

Switch-hitting catcher Patrick Bailey was the highest selection of the four collegiate players from the state of North Carolina and will join former Wolfpack teammate Will Wilson in the San Francisco Giants organization.  Prior to the draft, many analysts had Bailey as the top catching prospect in this year’s draft.

Bailey was off to a great start to the 2020 season as he had reached base in 16 of the 17 games played, had a game where he hit home runs from both sides of the plate, was second in RBIs in the ACC, and was fourth in home runs in the ACC.  In Bailey’s 2019 season, he had a .989 fielding percentage and threw out 33% of base runners who were attempting to steal on him, showing off his impressive arm.  Bailey’s bat still needs to develop a little in the Minor Leagues, but his defensive ability is off the charts.

This was an interesting selection for the Giants as two years ago, they selected a catcher named Joey Bart with their #2 overall pick.

Bryce Jarvis of Duke selected #18 overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks

Right-handed pitcher Bryce Jarvis was the next highest selection from the state of North Carolina.  Jarvis was selected in the 37th round by the New York Yankees in 2019, showing the incredible improvements he made this past year.

Jarvis had an absolutely ridiculous start to the 2020 season by throwing a perfect game in 94 pitches against Cornell in his second start of the season.  Jarvis followed that game by pitching 7 innings in a win against Purdue and then allowing only 1 hit in 7 innings in a victory against #11 Florida State.  Jarvis finished 2020 with 4 starts, an ERA of 0.67, 40 strikeouts in 27 pitched innings, and only 2 earned runs.

Jarvis added over 20 pounds of muscle from 2019-2020 which allowed the velocity of his fastball to increase by 4 miles per hour.  His curveball also improved dramatically, to go along with his amazing changeup that was considered one of the best in the country.

Jared Shuster of Wake Forest selected #25 overall to the Atlanta Braves

Left-handed pitcher Jared Shuster was another pitcher who improved dramatically during the shortened 2020 season to become a first round pick.

In 2019, as a sophomore, Shuster had a 4-4 record and a 6.49 ERA, but he had a great 2019 summer which showed in 2020.  Shuster had a 2-1 record and a 3.76 ERA in four starts for the Demon Deacons.  His best game was his last ever collegiate game when he pitched 7.1 innings against #2 Louisville and only allowed 4 hits and one run while striking out 13.

Like Jarvis, Shuster’s best pitch is his changeup and his fastball also increased its velocity, to top out around 97 miles per hour.  Before he makes it to the Braves, he will need to improve his curveball in the Minor Leagues.

Aaron Sabato of UNC selected #27 overall to the Minnesota Twins

Two picks after Shuster, right-handed first baseman Aaron Sabato of the Tar Heels was selected.  Sabato has a lot of power in his bat, but can probably only be used at first base or as a designated hitter in the Majors.

In 2019, Sabato set a UNC freshman record for home runs in a season with 18 while leading the team in batting average, hits, doubles, RBIs, and slugging percentage.  Sabato had 44 extra-base hits in 2019, had 24 multi-hit games, 18 multi-RBI games, and even had a game where he hit for the cycle.  He was the 2019 ACC Freshman of the year, first team All-ACC, first team All-America and freshman All-America, and was named the National Collegiate Baseball Co-National Freshman of the Year.

The bat is clearly there for Sabato and that will be key for him to reach the Twins as he is very limited defensively.